Is Turbo Engine good?

Some models (such as Chevy Cruz) have Turbo engine option with extra cost. Some models (such as Mazda3) don’t have such option. What is the deal with Turbo engines? Is it worth it to pay extra? Is the maintenance more expensive with Turbo engines?
Thank You!

They’re becoming MUCH more common. I’d probably pick a non-turbo, given the choice, because of the cost and extra load it puts on the engine. The Mazdas are top on my list these days.

The Mazdaspeed3 has the turbo engine in it, if you’re interested.

For some cars, it’s just a way to have a smaller engine and still have good MPG and power., for others, it’s for performance.
I own a turbo car and the maintenance is a little more expensive, but you pay to play. Most recommend or require high octane fuel to run, and will likely call for full synthetic oil changes. If you don’t want to pay that extra 20 cents a gallon or few bucks more on full syn, then stick with conventional engines

It’s generally a personal preference issue. If you think the word Turbocharger sounds cool, and you like having Turbo embossed on the car, you might go for it.
It actually does produce more power, but is also a complication and something else to potentially go wrong, and may require premium fuel.

Manufaturers are turbocharging their cars to get more power and equivalent or better gas mileage. The Chevy Cruze LT comes with the 1.4L turbocharged engine, and has combined mileage of 30 MPG. The LS has the 1.8L without turbo and the combnined mileage is 27 MPG. The LT1 is about $1300 more than the LS, and you get more than just the turbo engine. But you still have to pay the $1300 to get it.

A turbo is set spinning by exhaust gases, and the other side of the turbo pumps more air into the intake manifold. More air in the intake means you can feed in more gas and therefore get more power from a smaller engine. Is it worth it? A non-turbo motor of the same size could feel sluggish, while the same motor with a turbo charger will feel strong and powerful. A turbo will increase your power, but will decrease your mpg. The idea is to give you “big” motor power when you need it, but “small” motor mpg when you are just cruising along.

The main maintenance on a turbo motor is to not miss oil changes, stick to the schedule. A turbo motor can run “hotter” than a non-turbo motor so in some cases use of a synthetic oil is recommended or required. Therefore, maintenance costs will be higher. But the difference in power is significant. It is up to the owner to decide if the extra boost in power and performance is worth the extra cost of higher maintenance and a bit more in expense for gas.

If anyone here subscribes to Consumer Reports, you may want to log in.

A few months ago there was an article that essentially stated the newer cars with the turbo 4 bangers aren’t getting the fuel economy that they’re “supposed” to get.

They had a chart listing CR’s observed fuel economy, and the “advertised” fuel economy. CR’s fuel economy was less in most cases.

You’re right, @db4690 - not the huge benefit the EPA numbers would lead you to believe. Car and Driver reached the same conclusion a few years ago, the turbo/small engines got about the same mpgs as equivalent regular engines (2.0 l turbo 4 compared to regular 3.0 l V6, for example).

The environmentalists will hate me for saying this:

I would rather have a naturally aspirated V6 comfortably making 200-some hp versus a turbo 4-banger making the same 200-some hp.

From a technical standpoint, I think the V6 might last longer because it’s not working as hard.

Just be aware of two disadvantages of turbo’s vs non-turbo’s.

  1. Engine wear. The turbo-charger forces air into the engine. The analogy would be blowing air on a camp-fire to make it hotter. You get more power, but you also get more heat. The engine parts will heat up more than otherwise, and the extra heat may eventually do some expensive-to-repair damage. Likewise, there is also an additional load to the cooling system. So it’s best to anticipate some repair bills beyond what is normal for a non-turbo, especially as the car ages.

  2. Comparing engines w/the same power spec, the turbo version won’t be quite as responsive as the normally aspirated fuel-injected engine. It takes some add’l time for the turbo to respond to the demand for more air when the driver “pedals to the metal”. This disadvantage is referred to as “turbo-lag”.

Turbocharged sounds great in the sales brochures.

With used cars, the risk is even greater. I can’t count how many turbo 4 cylinders I’ve seen show up at the drag strip where they’re beaten into the asphalt on a test and tune night.
A number of those cars still had the dealer paper tags in the window from being sold brand new.
They were being absolutely flogged before the first oil change was due.

Many will probably wind up back at the dealer with engine/transmission/tire wear complaints and pity on the next owners of those cars.

People buy new turbo cars, head to drag strip, beat the crap out of them and take them back to dealer? Bunk. And all hertz rental cars are raced at dirt tracks. Urban myth.

Uncle Turbo provided an excellent description of how turbos work. And, as everyone has said, they’re becoming more common as manufacturers try to get decent performance out of smaller engines.

The major weakness of them is that they spin at extremely high speeds (think 200,000 rpm) while being heated by the hot exhaust that drives them. That can cause failure of the seals and bearings that seperate the exhaust-driven half of the assembly from the half that pushes air into the engine. The heat is also hard on the engine’s oil, which is used to lube the turbo bearings. But modern turbos don;t have near the failure rates that turbos used to have. The technology and the oil have come a long way.

Turbos also need premium gasoline to prevent pinging and synthetioc oil to withstand the high heat. That is an added cost.

Fortunately, superchergerd are becoming more common on stock engines as well. Superchargers provide boost without the hight temps, but they can place too much load on the engine and., like turbos, they require high-test gasoline.

@the_sane_mountainbike The last Kaiser automobiles built in this country offered an optional McCullough supercharger. This was back in 1954. The Supercharger only offered the boost when the accelerator was floored. The engine was a 226 cubic inch six cylinder made by Continental.

Interesting. They must have had some form of clutch on it.
Man, it’d be nice to have a Henry J. now! They weren’t around long.

@Stoveguy, racing new cars or rental cars at the drag strip is not an urban myth. People have been doing that for decades.
I’ve personally watched more than a few brand new cars being beaten to death on the strip including one guy in a new Subaru WRX who started running at 5.30 P.M. and when I left early about 9 that evening he was still at it.

A car went through the Barrett auction a few years ago and this particular car (a Shelby) had an ancestry dating back to being a Hertz rental. It was discovered that someone had removed the carpet, welded in a roll cage, and went racing. Before returning the car the cage was removed and the carpet reinstalled.

If you’re familiar with the Speed Channel’s Pass Time show, one of the regular production staff members rented a new Dodge Charger and took that one racing on national TV. The name of the rental company was not mentioned.

Be aware that I’d be surprised if a rental agreement still existed that did not specifically prohibit such use of the rental car.

A few years ago Hertz got is a number of high-performance Mustangs. They went to the trouble of using anti-tamper wires with seals on the engines to prevent somebody from swapping out the hot motor for a ‘regular’ V8.

@texases Yes, I remember renting one of those (Shelbys?) in black and gold at O’Hare Airport. This beast idled at 30 mph! Fun to drive on the freeway but quite a handful in traffic.

In retrospect, too many got into accidents; imagine someone getting off the plane with jet lag and three martinis under his belt and then driving these cars when you don’t know your way around.

Small engine cars are using a turbo to get better fuel economy. According to a break even analysis I read somewhere, this particular extra cost will save you enough gas to pay for itself.

At least this technology has been around longer than hybrid engines, so it should be at least a little more reliable than a hybrid, and there’s no $5,000 battery pack to replace.

Yes, oil changes usually cost more with a turbo because you HAVE to use synthetic oil, and you’ll probably have to use high octane gasoline, but if you drive more miles per year than the average driver, these extra costs might be worth it. If you drive less than the average driver, a naturally aspirated engine might make more financial sense.